Unification News for March 2004

Kenya Inter-Religious Peace Week

by Dr. Chris M. Nyamai

The Isiolo Inter-religious Peace Week (2003) was held between 4th-8th August 2003, in Isiolo town, northern Kenya. The event was an initiative of the Isiolo Inter-religious Council (IIC) that has been promoting peace in Isiolo for the last one year.

The Peace Week Event under the theme "Nurturing a Culture of Peace" entailed a three-days training workshop in Peace building, Inter-religious Dialogue, Conflict Management and Mediation, HIV-AIDS and Family Values; a Public Baraza procession and speech day, Sports, and Community visits. The topics of the training program were selected with the aim of improving the skills and information base of the participants in these fields. The participants attending the training workshop came from recognized religious leaders, community elders, youth leaders, politicians, government and the civil society organizations.

The Public Baraza procession for Peace and speech day, held immediately after the three days training workshop, brought together an assembly of peace builders, athletes and artists that are all interested in a lasting peace in Isiolo.

The epitome of the peace procession and public Baraza meeting was a speech given by the chief guest, the local District Commissioner (DC) of Isiolo. The DC emphasized the importance of maintaining peace as a pre-requisite for development and acknowledged the good work that has been achieved by ChemChemi Ya Ukweli (CYU) and International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF-Urafiki Kenya) NGO’s in facilitating peaceful activities within Isiolo. A livestock exchange ceremony that was graced by the presence of the DC saw the religious faiths pledging to share their material wealth for the benefit of the community.

On the fifth day, there were solidarity inter-religious peace visits that were made to communities around Isiolo town that had previously been affected by violent incidents. The visits were aimed at increasing confidence to the survivors of past conflicts and to encourage with a vision that things will change for the better through unity and working together for peace.

The Peace Week Event is part of a broader process that aims at building an Inter-religious Community Peace Centre in Isiolo in 2004. The Peace Centre is envisaged to boost the local capacity for peacebuilding and as a symbol of unity among the inter-religious groups in the region. The IIC initiative invites all interested parties in peacebuilding within and outside Isiolo to make a contribution to this noble process.

The IIC initiative appreciates the work of the Provincial Administration, Kenya Police, the Religious Organizations, Peace and Development NGO’s who have contributed immensely to bring peace in Isiolo. Special mention goes to the Isiolo District Peace and Reconciliation Committee for spearheading civil society conflict management programmes. The Isiolo Inter-religious Peace Week 2003 will remain as a landmark event in symbolizing the importance of Unity and Inter-religious dialogue in promotion and nurturing a culture of peace for many years to come.

For more information, contact: IRFF-Kenya Chapter, Ngara Road, P.O. Box 33513 – 00600 Ngara, Nairobi, Kenya. Email: cnyamai@uonbi.ac.ke

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